Here’s a secret: I really have an easy job, writing about Israeli startups and technology; there is so much innovation and creativity in this country, there’s always something to write about. If I were doing this kind of column in, for example, South Korea, Japan, Canada or even Germany, I’d have a much harder time of it.
I came to this realization as I did my due diligence on Israel’s delegation to the Mobile World Congress, taking place in Barcelona this week. And I picked those four countries to compare because little Israel’s delegation, with 107 companies participating, is larger than any of theirs – yes, even mighty Germany’s. In fact, Israel has the fourth largest delegation of participants of any country, outdone only by the US, Britain and France.
Here’s a statistic to mull on: The US, UK and France are represented by about 750 companies, and the combined population of these three countries is about 440 million people, which averages out to one telecom per 587,000 residents in each of the three combined. For Israel, with its 7.7 million population, the 107- strong delegation to Barcelona works out to one company per 72,000 Israelis. It may not mean much, but it sure sounds impressive! When you look at the list of Israeli companies showing off their wares you realize what a tech powerhouse Israel is. There are plenty of large companies – Allot, Ceedo, Radwin, to name just a few – and companies that have perhaps graduated past the startup stage and are now successfully competing in the marketplace.
Some of them, such as Discretix and Tvinci, you may have read about right here in The Jerusalem Post.
Many of the larger, more established companies and startups traveled to Barcelona with the Israel Export Institute, which is happy about the many business opportunities Israeli companies will have at the show. The institute is working on several projects to try and drum up business, such as putting together presentations for representatives from under-served African countries about how Israeli technology can help them.
But what interests us is to discover and highlight the best new ideas you haven’t necessarily heard about: the companies that will be changing the face of technology – in this case, mobile communication technology – tomorrow. So, here is a nonrepresentative, discretionary list, in no particular order or importance, of some of the cool ideas that jumped out at me when I reviewed the Israeli exhibitor list on the Mobile World Congress website (mobileworldcongress.com): MobiApp (mingler.co.il): All the location- based services you can get on your smartphone today have one thing in common: They all require you to be hooked into GPS. That’s fine for when you’re cruising to your local Starbuck’s, but not if you’re in a mall; for the most part, there’s no GPS signal there. That means all the great ad gimmicks – the coupons that pop up on your cellphone as you pass a store, the special offers that entice you to lunch at a restaurant in the food court – won’t work. MobiApp’s technology goes where GPS can’t, providing the same kind of locationbased services for indoor users.
Lexifone (lexifone.com): The sorry aftermath of man’s hubris in building
the Tower of Babel resulted in the polyglot of languages we have today,
which would make the people behind Lexifone Bible critics, I suppose.
Actually, I don’t know their views on spiritual matters, but they are
doing their part to enable understanding between nations. Lexifone is
utilizing voice-totext and natural-language technologies to produce an
automatic translation service that will enable users to call a number,
say a sentence or ask a question in their own language, and have it
automatically translated into another language.
It’s a service that could be implemented at an airport, hotel, shopping
center, or any other facility where people are likely to need
translation help. Currently a part of the Haifa HiCenter business
accelerator, the company expects to begin raising investor money in the
Tawkon (tawkon.com): Not a product to encourage people to speak with a
New York accent, Tawkon’s mission is simple: help reduce the radiation
cellphone users are exposed to. Besides the radiation from the cellphone
itself, there is also radiation from the cellphone towers and other
sources. While nothing has been proven yet (probably), there is a great
deal of anxiety out there about cellphone exposure levels.
Tawkon’s application will measure radiation in the area of the
cellphone, alerting users to the higher exposure, so they can take
An iPhone version is said to exist, but according to several stories I
have read, Apple has been taking its sweet time in approving Tawkon for
sale in the App Store – lest anxious cellphone users get a true reading
of how much radiation is going through their head! I could go on, but
you get the idea.
Israeli companies are presenting some amazing applications and products
for consumer, business, front-end and back-end cellphone systems. You
may even get to watch 3-D TV on your cellphone before you get a 3-D set
for your home (check out amimon.com). For a country that has a 72,000:1
company-to-citizen mobile-communications ratio, we would expect nothing